Dating after divorce can be exciting but also fraught with anxiety. If you're getting back in the dating game after some years, here are the dos and don'ts you need to know.
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See also: Online dating in your 50s-plus
DON'T: Spend too much time with couples
It's important to stay in touch with friends, but spending too much time with loved-up couples can bring you down. And if they're still friendly with your ex, it can make you feel uncomfortable. Go out with single friends – preferably ones who make you laugh and know how to have fun.
DO: Accept each and every invite
Make the effort to widen your social circle – making new friends who know you as "Jayne" not "Jayne and Fred" can be liberating. Many people re-invent areas of their life and personality after divorce. Give yourself permission to be who you are now – not who you were when you were married. The more new friends you make, the more chance there is that someone will introduce you to someone special.
DON'T: Dismiss online dating as not for you
Things have changed, and there is little (if any) stigma attached to online dating. One survey found that a fifth of UK couples met online, while almost half of all British singles have tried online dating sites. It is worth going onto a site like Match.com – which has a high number of members, so there is bound to be singles near you – and trying it out for a month or so.
DO: Go into online dating with the right attitude
If you decide to give online dating a try, go into it with the right attitude. See it as an opportunity to date interesting people you wouldn't have met otherwise, rather than a mission to find "the one". Be light-hearted in your approach, try not to form expectations about people from their picture or profile, and you should enjoy the experience.
DON'T: Talk online for too long
Don't spend too long emailing. Five email exchanges should be enough to know if you want to meet. You'll only know if there's a spark there when you see the person face-to-face. Go for a lunchtime coffee if you can – dinner can feel like too much pressure.
DON'T: Rush things if you're not ready
Set up a profile but can't bring yourself to respond to anyone's invitations? It might be that you're not emotionally ready to date again. On the other hand, sometimes you need to "feel the fear and do it anyway". It's natural to feel nervous after you've been out of the dating game – but remember that the people you're chatting to are likely to be feeling the same way as you. Maybe try replying to just one or two people and see how it goes – there's nothing wrong with taking things at your own pace.
DO: Pamper yourself before a first date
Divorce can drain your self-esteem and your emotions, not to mention your finances. You might be watching the pennies, but do treat yourself to a new haircut and new clothes before you go on a first date. A new look will boost your confidence and help mark a new chapter in your life.
DON'T: Talk about your ex
Don't reveal the ins and outs of your divorce when chatting to a potential date – even if you know that they've been through a similar experience. Even if you're happy to talk about your divorce, the topic has the potential to make others feel very uncomfortable. If they ask about your ex, change the subject. Be too positive and they might think you're carrying a flame; too negative and you'll seem bitter and hung up.
DO: Go on dates with several different people
There's nothing wrong with going on dates with several different people at once – particularly if you've just come out of a long marriage and haven't had many partners before. That said, be honest with people that you're dating. You don't want to string anyone along.